Friday, August 26, 2011

Story Ponderings

In real life one can find oneself thinking about someone for no apparent reason. Imagine if this person lived in a different province and then... days after you were wondering about them you run into them in a small community town an hour from your house, as happened to me recently. Is there really such a thing as fate or coincidence? One could argue that it's a question of energy and if two people think of each other it makes the chances of meeting greater... that the energy we put out affects what happens around us. One could also argue that everything is random and can be explained mathematically and can be calculated using probability.

For myself, I am always awed when things like this happen and have to wonder why it is if things coincide like this in a short story or novel, it seems contrived? Why must we surround pleasantly surprising turns of events with foreshadowing to make this phenomenon acceptable to the reader so they do not perceive it as the unique unexpected gift and totally wonderful occurrence it can be, but rather see it as the only logical solution or unfolding of events in the story arc.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Future Story Images

I have a very vivid imagination and recently wound up doing a nightmarish 6 hour highway trip in 9 hours, at night.

At first the fading light was only annoying, it cut down my vision and made me feel half blind, but as the night got darker the landscape changed, taking on sinister appearance; trees turned to dark shadows and bits of fog appeared on the road making navigation hard.

On the top of a clear hill I looked out on the lake of fog I would have to drive through with dread. Slowing to 60 km/h I changed my headlights to low beam so less light would be reflected back from the humid air and allow me to see a little further and clearer as I crept up the highway. The softly light gave the illusion of traveling in a dream reality which was hard to shake. It was only my consciousness tying me to this earth as I moved my small bubble of light through the dark scape surrounding me, making the dreamy illusion even harder to shake as I clung to consciousness awareness and the belief that real world I longed for would emerge again.

At times I could have sworn the road was no longer the highway I remembered. Instead it was easy to imagine I'd been magically transported through hidden doorways in the fog and darkness to a road in another dimension and would be transfered back to reality on a later section of the highway provided I didn't stop. Which of course I did, as one doesn't make a 6 hour drive without going pee.

I chose my stops carefully. I never stopped in the foggy unlit valleys. There were places I knew I could stop safely and places I couldn't. I can't tell you how I knew this, I just did. It was a feeling, a pressure of caution, a warning passed from outside into my conscious brain which I have learnt to pay attention to. When I finally pulled over for a nap it was on a hill where I was on higher ground and in an area I recognized and was comfortable with.

As I neared the 2/3 mark, the sun was rising and I could see the trees clearly in the areas which were not smothered in with fog. I looked up from the thinner fog I was driving through and saw a picture which could have been from a fantasy movie. A sharp hilltop swathed in fog was guarded by the black shapes of 4 tall dark trees in the foreground, sentinels standing tall, looming from fog wrapped feet.

As I made the last 2 hours of the drive the sun shone brightly and the few lingering fingers of the mist which crept across my path and around the edges of the road were quickly fading; a nightmare receding into the fogs of my subconscious. And I couldn't help think of the rich descriptive images I have gained and wonder what stories they are going to crop up in.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pondering on Fireweed

Taken at Dredge #4, Dawson City, Yukon. July 2009.

I always find it amazing to discover how a specific detail of a story writing has made it's way into my work from my subconscious and what the connections are, however loose, to my own life. A year ago in June one of the words I suggested was "Fireweed." Then, last summer I when began exploring linocuts for blocks printing. One of the first cuts I designed was Fireweed. I was very happy with the simplicity and detail I had put into the image, but lacked the drive to actually do much with it until last week, when I again had the print making materials out for the kids to use and I decided, 'what the heck, I'll have some fun too' and pulled out my fireweed cut. 
Having made 9 different and unique prints on paper I was then left with the dilemma of wondering what to do with them. It was this pondering which got me thinking about Fireweed. I remembered as a child spending hours playing in the field of fireweed which grew on the embankment next to the garden and watching the bumblebees harvest pollen. And I began to wonder just why Fireweed still continues to fascinate me and what it's significance is in my life is now that it has turned up, not only in my writing, but my drawing and other creative expression too. In doing this I recalled the post On the Road to Somewhere where I discussed story beginning I wrote last June using the word "Fireweed," which appears below.
On the Road to Somewhere
The purple-pink carpet stretches on both sides of the road as far as I could see, broken by blackened stumps, sentinels lifting their heads above the thronging flowers, bowing in the wind. Bumble-bees hovered from bunch to bunch gathering nectar. The raging fire, bearer of this beauty, but a memory soon forgotten.
 My worldly possessions filling the trunk of my little Epson Ford, I drove. If you had to chose what to take. If you could take only what would fit into the car; what would you chose? My typewriter, a suitcase and paper for words yet to come. 
 Back home Tom was heading in the other direction. I could imagine the women on his smooth talking arm, twirling their skirts, smiling with their flippant blonde locks streaming in the wind I’d left behind. 
I let the pictures fly, one by one, out the open window, memories blowing in the breeze marking the trail of where I’ve been, the stereo playing in the background. So, what; fine me for littering. I looked ahead at the open highway, roads to somewhere - unwritten. 

After reading this I realized that the fireweed in the piece appears after a moment of irrevocable change in the main characters life, a climax in a story, and is very fitting. Springing from the ground after a forest fire, fireweed displays it's beauty and reclaims the earth with new life and I think for me it is a symbol of rebirth and hope, that no matter what the changes are and how many, to borrow phrase form L.M. Montgomery,  "bends in the road," there is always some new beauty, some hope. And, in my case, I have Fireweed.

One of the 9 prints.
In this one I highlighted the design in
silver ink after the print dried.